No. 1 Aggies are no joke, Johnson sees it as opportunity for LSU

Published 12:00 pm Friday, May 3, 2024

There are no light touches in Southeastern Conference baseball this season.

But this year’s Texas A&M team (39-6, 15-6 SEC), which visits Baton Rouge this weekend for a key conference series against LSU, might be the big, bad bully on the block.

The Aggies rank first or second in the league in batting average, runs, RBIs, total bases, walks, triples and on-base percentage, etc. and etc.

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That’s at the plate. On the mound the Aggies are first in wins, second in ERA and third in strikeouts.

In their last 12 games, the Aggies have scored in double-digits eight times.

So never mind that Texas A&M is in second place in the SEC West, a game behind Arkansas.

It says something about the Aggies — and the SEC — that on the national scene, Texas A&M is numero uno, the No. 1-ranked team in the country.

For anecdotal evidence look no further than last weekend’s series against Georgia.

The Bulldogs surely thought they’d figured out A&M when they scored nine runs against the Aggies in the top of the first inning.

But A&M cut the margin to 9-8 before Georgia came to bat in the second inning and the Aggies eventually brought the 10-run rule into play with a 19-9 win in seven innings.

Or ask No. 17 Vanderbilt, which rolled into College Station ranked No. 5 in the nation before losing the first two games 15-0 and 9-0 in what became a three-game sweep.

“They’re the very complete team,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said of the Aggies. “I think, offensively, they’ve got power — they get free bases, run the base as well … not a lot of holes. From the mound, very left-handed (oriented) and then a couple right-handers sprinkled in there.”

So Johnson sounds almost like a glutton for punishment when he says he says that he sees the weekend not as unfortunate scheduling be as an “opportunity” for LSU.

The Tigers (29-17, 7-14) need something.

Trying to rally their way into the 64-team NCAA Tournament, LSU comes into the weekend tied with Ole Miss for the final spot to get in the SEC Tournament, which takes all but the bottom two of the its 14 teams.

But with a 22-3 nonconference record, the Tigers could raise some eyebrows with a series win over the Aggies.

“I think it’s an opportunity, that’s the most important part,” Johnson said.

“When you are where we are, it’s a benefit, you know, to have a team with as good a record as they have still on your schedule. And so for me, I look at it that way. I also think it’s great that the series is at home.

“This will be big. This is one of those weekends you’re excited about playing here.”

Although the schedule loosened up some, the Tigers have shown signs of coming around.

After losing their first five SEC series, four of which were on the road, they’ve won their last two, albeit against rare unranked conference opponents.

“I think that the team has been in a good frame of mind for two-plus weeks,” said Johnson, giving most of the credit to the pitching staff.

“Our pitching is why we’ve won seven of our last nine games,” Johnson said. “We’ve had two bad innings on the mound over the past nine games. We’re looking forward to our pitchers continuing that this weekend.”

After this weekend, the Tigers travel to face Alabama next week before finishing the regular season at home against Ole Miss.